Renton police are investigating a dog attack they believe is linked to a pit bull that was labeled as dangerous almost two years ago and had been banned from city limits.
Larry, the 1-year-old Chihuahua-dachshund mix who survived the April 24 attack, is now at home after a $8,000-plus surgery to save his leg. According to the GoFundme page for Larry, he is on “kennel rest” for several weeks. One of his owners was bitten while trying to pull Larry out of the jaws of the attacking dog and required treatment from Valley Medical Center.
According to the case report, Larry’s owner was in the yard with Larry on a chain when the suspected dog ran into the yard and attacked the smaller dog on the front porch. The attack can be seen in a video the owner posted online.
The suspected dog’s owner has been in custody for unrelated charges since before the April 24 attack, according to King County records. The dog, a pit bull named Sweetie, was stolen from Animal Control kennels in 2017 after being declared dangerous at the time, according to the case report. The dog had 10 days to either be re-homed outside Renton city limits or be euthanized by Animal Control because it was officially considered a dangerous dog.
According to the Renton Police Department, once probable cause is established for the recent attack, there will be a warrant to seize the pit bull, with charges pending on the owner. If the dog is indeed Sweetie, these charges will be added to the owner’s current charges, according to police.
The pit bull is no stranger in the 400 block of Wells Avenue North. Neighbors approached the Renton City Council in 2017 to demand something be done about a dangerous dog that had attacked other animals and was bringing fear to the neighborhood. A public records request from the Renton Reporter found several instances of the dog attacking or attempting to attack other neighborhood dogs, while the owner denied and later admitted to previous attacks. Now that same dog is suspected for this case.
“It’s frightening,” said Diane Dobson, who has publicly expressed concerns about the dog before, regarding the recent attack. “I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like living near the house.”
In the April 24 incident, a woman and man came over to assist in separating the dogs. Both people denied knowing the dog that attacked Larry despite sharing the same address on Wells Avenue North as the suspected dog Sweetie and her owner had in 2017, according to the case report.
The investigation on this attack is ongoing. The officer who wrote the report recognized the dog as possibly being Sweetie from a video of the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call Renton Police Department at 911 or 425-235-2121 and reference case #19-4799.
‘You’ve heard from multiple neighbors about this dog’
In a police report from April 21, 2017, an officer determined William C. Bridwell’s dog Sweetie was potentially dangerous and, according to the report, a declaration about the potentially dangerous dog was mailed to Bridwell.
At the time, city records showed Bridwell hadn’t obtained a city pet license, which is required of all animals within Renton limits.
Around that same week, neighbors told the city council that children, cats and other dogs had been approached or feared Sweetie. One child spoke to city council about being lunged at.
Diane Dobson spoke at that meeting and said she’d heard concerns about Sweetie, or other aggressive dogs, since 2015. She asked for the city to act.
“You’ve heard from multiple neighbors who have complained about this dog, and nothing’s been done,” she told the council.
In a recent interview, Dobson said an attack on a poodle had pushed the neighborhood over the edge and prompted residents to address the council at the time. She mentioned other alleged incidents of Sweetie threatening to attack cats and kids. Dobson said they started to see the dog back at the same residence in fall 2018.
Bridwell also spoke at that 2017 council meeting. He said at public comment that Sweetie had never attacked another dog, except for a poodle that was killed when it ran up to her off-leash. In a case that same year, he admitted his dog had attacked a spaniel on the Cedar River Trail in September 2016, before the poodle incident.
According to records Sweetie, who was off-leash, attacked the spaniel, which was on-leash, along the trail. It resulted in $4,000 for multiple surgeries for the spaniel. Bridwell later said his dog was on a leash, but he’d let her go because she was heading toward the Cedar River. In a recording of the hearing obtained by the Renton Reporter, Bridwell said he would never let something like this happen again.
“I would never let go of the leash again. I would go in the river first,” Bridwell said.
As a result of that case, Sweetie was officially declared dangerous by the Renton Police Department. The city council also approved a stricter ordinance that removed the need to determine if the attacking dog was provoked in order to declare the dog as dangerous. The ordinance also includes language that if a known dangerous dog gets out, the owner can be charged with a misdemeanor, even if the dog doesn’t injure any people or animals.
The Renton Reporter tried multiple times to contact the owner of Larry, the Chiweenie injured last month. According to MyNorthwest, Larry’s owner attempted to reach out to Bridwell and has hired a personal attorney.
Dobson said before animal control picked up Sweetie in 2017, she had told Bridwell she could rehome the dog to a pit bull rescue, but he allegedly refused to do it.
“I don’t doubt for a minute the man cares for and loves his dog,” she said. “I think he’s a irresponsible pet owner, but I hope he does the right thing in this instance for the neighborhood, for himself and for the dog.”